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Quiapo church to be closed to traslacion devotees

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
Quiapo Church

If health protocols, social distancing violated

QUIAPO Church authorities have sent word to the Philippine National Police (PNP) that they would close the doors of the Basilica in the event Black Nazarene devotees force their way into the area during the Traslacion on Saturday and ignored minimum health protocols specifically social distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields, PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas said yesterday.

According to the top cop, he was told by Manila Police District director, Brigadier Gen. Leo M. Francisco that the assurance was given by Quiapo Church officials in the event the worst-case scenario of devotees pouring into the church and ignoring orders for them to behave and observe protocols imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“We’re coordinating with Quiapo Church authorities, we relay our obversation to them regularly and doing our best effort to contain the people. So far, they (church officials) are cooperating. And me advise sila sa MPD na pag nagkumpol-kumpol ang mga tao, kapag lumala ang sitwasyon ay isasara ang Church in order to observe quarantine protocols. That’s their commitment to the MPD leadership,” Sinas said.

The PNP chief said Francisco had told him they are looking at the possible worst-case scenario of a jampacked Quiapo Church during the Traslacion.

“Yung ang mga tao ay magsisiksikan na sa loob tulad ng dati, yun ang worst-case scenario. So far, me designated points na ang mga deboto kung saan sila uupo at tatayo. Ino-observe din ang sitting capacity ng simbahan pero kung merong magpipilit na pumasok at ma-violate ang health protocols natin, ang commitment ng mga pari ay they will close their doors,” he said.

According to Sinas, he was informed that at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, the MPD recorded the presence of around 6,000 devotees lining up along Quezon Boulevard and Carlos Palanca Street in Quiapo to enter the church. The crowd dwindled when heavy rains hit Manila around 10 a.m.

“There were minor infractions noted but all of them were immediately corrected by the MPD,” said the PNP chief.

According to Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Cesar Hawthorne R. Binag, Manila City Hall issued a letter to the Quiapo parish priest regarding their concerns during the Traslacion.

In turn, Binag said four different churches in the area: Quiapo Church, San Sebastian Basilica, Sta. Cruz Church and the Nazarene Catholic Church will simultaneously hold masses during the Traslacion in order to spread the number of people.

“Yung pagtanggap ng Traslacion eh hindi mangyayari, me variations. Me apat na simbahan na sabay-sabay magmimisa para mas maraming lugar na puwedeng puntahan ng tao,” the official said.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said they are likewise considering a Sinulug-like approach during the Traslacion, including the placement of barriers in Quiapo Church.

Binag said that overall, they are getting full cooperation from church officials and the Manila City government headed by Mayor Isko Moreno in their effort to secure the Traslacion under the new normal.

Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines Oscar Jaime Florencio said that they have been also briefed by Quiapo church authorities that “the normal things we have been doing in the past will not be done this time.”

However, he said there are plans to celebrate in the local diocese on Saturday. “This is to prohibit people from congregating, from gathering in order to minimize contamination, their possible exposure to the virus. Besides, what will be celebrated in Quiapo and the local dioceses would have the same spirit, it would have the same impact and the same blessings to the devotees,” the bishop said.